Debt industry compliance professionals in both the Columbus, Ohio, region; and the Atlanta, Georgia, region, met this past week in regional discussion groups to talk, as peers, about issues each person is facing in an industry defined more by flux than by clarity.
These meetings, hosted by The Compliance Professionals Forum, (and made possible by the generous underwriting of TransUnion, Ontario Systems, and Cornerstone Support) were structured and facilitated conversations that allowed those in compliance roles within their agencies to talk through issues, ask questions of others in the room in similar situations, and share practices in an open setting. Since the meetings were only open to compliance professionals, there were no regulators taking notes, and no one judging anyone’s practices.
Of prime interest to both groups, and where each spent considerable time, was in talking about the challenges entrenched collector behavior causes any agency and the frustrations around what, specifically, counts as a UDAAP: an Unfair, Deceptive, and Abusive Practice.
What everyone could agree on: almost anything a collector says or does on a phone call or an agency says in a letter can fall under UDAAP. And this highlighted the specific pain-point faced by everyone in compliance: how can an agency effectively write scripts, train collectors, and implement comprehensive policies and procedures when faced with the broadly over-whelming grab-bag that a UDAAP violation is pulled from.
Mention online payment options in your initial letter? That can probably be seen as overshadowing and would likely be a UDAAP violation. Answering consumer questions about credit reporting or litigation in the wrong way (and by the way, it’s a thin line between the right and wrong way often)? That might earn you a “D for Deceptive” even if your intent was anything but. Is your agency currently offering to settle debts for less than the full amount? How are you settling? Unless every single account is offered the very same settlement plan, you might have just earned a double: a U (for Unfair) and a D (for Deceptive). And hearkening back to the issue around call frequency: too many times a day can be considered Abusive.
Those interested in participating in conversations of this kind have a couple of options:
1) Consider a membership in the The Compliance Professionals Forum. Your annual membership gets you a seat on monthly peer group calls where you’ll get the chance to pick the brains of 15-20 compliance professionals, in addition to free compliance resources and webinars.
2) Keep your eye out for our list of Destination Cities for 2016. If we’re in a town near you, your compliance team is absolutely invited.